You have to feel for Phil Coulson. Not only are the Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted as fugitives, being hunted down by the army and answer to the looming dark threat of Hydra, but they have to do it all on a shoestring budget.
“The reality is I don’t have a fleet of helicarriers or quinjets or thousands of agents at my disposal anymore. We’re lucky we still have our George Foreman grill” – Coulson sounding like another victim of modern day austerity.
It seems that as S.H.I.E.L.D. is rebuilding from the events of the last series, it’s not lost on the Director that he needs to rely on his small band of vigilante agents, rather than his resources, more than ever. That very team isn’t looking peeky either and in particular as Coulson’s approach to apprehending Carl Creel is the source of frustration for Agents May and Skye.
Things kick off right where we left off in the series opener Shadows, making this feel like the second half of a frantic double-header. We first see Lance Hunter in an overturned vehicle, who is coming to terms with the deaths of partners Idaho and Hartley from the encounter with Creel, who has sped away with the sought-after Obelisk. Things don’t look good for Hunter as he is apprehended by Major Talbot, while Agent May goes off in hot pursuit of The Absorbing Man in a race to retrieve it before it reaches HYDRA’s hands.
However it wasn’t just S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra who were clambering over each other to have the first ever 0-8-4, as Raina also in the hunt. Creel played the part of the evil pawn – caught between all those who wanted the Obelisk, as well as he struggled with coming to terms with the Obelisk’s effects on him.
But if we were picking a character to dissect we would have to look at the former SAS-turned-mercenary Hunter, as he keeps us guessing where his motives and allegiances truly lie. By disobeying Coulson, neutralising the team during the mission and taking on Creel himself we know that his allegiance is to the fallen Hartley and getting her a proper burial, but now that Coulson wants him as ‘warm body’ at S.H.I.E.L.D. , can he really trust him?
I really think that Hunter is a great addition to the series so far. I enjoyed his scene with Skye when they were packing up Hartley’s things as we learned a bit more about their relationship and Hartley’s commitment to her family. But perhaps more importantly, the explanation that Hunter offered to Skye about being a mercenary and her commitment to S.H.I.E.L.D..
“Everyone needs a exit strategy” – has the maverick planted a seed in the agent’s mind?
Meanwhile Fitz’s mental condition seems to be getting worse. He seems to lose grasp of his sentences and continues to see hallucinations of his old partner, Agent Simmons.
However at the same time these imaginary discussions have also given him the courage to take on the Creel case and establish a new bond with Mack, who shows compassion for his loss of his partner. I have to admit that Fitz’s persistent cries of “I didn’t solve this today” had me fooled that he was simply being forgetful, but Mack’s own persistence and getting the answer to finding the right tool to destabilise Creel’s DNA demonstrates that Fitz can still save the day. But how long until Fitz’s condition could put the team in danger?
We were treated to some classic Coulson too. When Coulson told the confused Talbot that Hunter was probably home watching Cake Boss, I almost choked on my coffee. One thing which really drives AoS is the wonderful dead-pan delivery of the dialogue by Clark Gregg, who is quite rightfully the star of the show.
Although the episode wasn’t the strongest, I think that when combined with the opening episode that this series could show plenty of promise. There are certainly a number of plot strands which look to bloom from here such as Coulson’s ‘releases’ of wall-carving and the significance of the mysterious Carbyne which Raina offers to Creel.
Lastly the biggest twist was when Raina appeared with the obelisk and a mysterious figure, revealed to be ‘The Doctor’ played by the fantastic Kyle MacLachlan. Can he really expose the wonders of the obelisk and will he be reunited with his daughter, Skye? And was it just me, or did I see blood on his hands?
However the big question for me still remains whether the Director will be able to keep the trust of his team, as he clearly feels the strain of work needed to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson may have a George Foreman grill and now a newly-acquired quinjet, but by the end of the series will he still have a team to lead? Let us know what you think in the comments below…